Summer of Service Blog Series: Chain Saws Need Love Too

If you’re looking to find yourself in places designed for postcard photos doing work designed to build muscles this summer, look no further. Mile High Youth Corps is still accepting applications for their Summer of Service Corpsmember and Crew Leader positions. Visit our website and apply here. I spent last summer dividing my time between a trail building and chain sawing crew, gaining skills and making friends – one special friend in particular of the winged variety. Check out my blog from last summer:

My new best friend is an Angel. With a wing disguised as a long, flat bar – lined not with feathers, but sharply filed teeth – the use of this wing is far from what would be typically described as angelic. A halo this Angel has not, but two circular knobs twisting open hungry for fuel. And this Angel doesn’t feed on fluffy clouds or the joy of making miracles, but rather thick, sticky bar oil and potent smelling gasoline. This Angel doesn’t live in the sky; instead she rests her weary head after a long day of work in a dark, dusty shed. Lucky number seven, my chain saw was christened her name back in the beginning of summer and has been by my side ever since, slicing through thick limbs and showing dense thickets who really reigns king. Rough around the edges and tougher than nails, still, as I’ve come to learn, chain saws need love too.

I have a degree in English Literature from Michigan State University. Before starting at Mile High Youth Corps in February, the extent of my use of tools ended with a pen and paper. My understanding of the word “machine” fell short after a laptop. But Angel has shown me the way, and in return I have learned to love her back. This Angel doesn’t need love in the form of hugs and kisses, she doesn’t want to cuddle or share one milkshake with two straws, never the less, she is very demanding of my attention.

Almost everyday Angel declares she’s had enough, demanding I take time away from cutting down trees to tend to her tired and worn chain, dull from cutting through thick bark and tree stumps. So I find myself, file in hand, working through each tooth making sure the angle of Angel’s cutting utensils are just right.

At the end of the day, Angel is dirty with the grim and grit of felling hundreds of trees, so I take her apart and with the help of air pressure, clean away the filth and leave her sparkling clean and unclogged of wood chips. And each morning, she thanks me. Angel takes down trees that seem impossible at first glance; she slices through meaty trunks as easily as a hot knife through butter and, ultimately, makes my job as easy as (sweating under a hard hat, doused in heavy gear facing gnarly forests) can be.

She may be an Angel in rare form, but halo dust doesn’t come in as handy as a sharp chain when you’re facing a tree that wants to remain standing tall.

-Vanessa Notman, Outreach Alumni Mentor

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